Halifax Harbour Sea-Doo rentals questioned as 15-year-old battles life-threatening injuries

HALIFAX —
A 15-year-old remains in hospital with life-threatening injuries after a crash involving a rented Sea-Doo watercraft in the Halifax Harbour on Friday. While the owner of the rental company says it takes strict safety precautions, the local boating community believes more efforts need to be made.

On Friday night, owner of The Harbour Watercraft & Adventure Rentals, Ossama Nasrallah lead a guided Sea-Doo tour of the harbour, when something went wrong – two of the watercrafts collided, leaving a 15-year-old male with injuries.

Nasrallah quickly called 911 and brought the injured teenager to Dartmouth’s King’s Wharf, where they were met by an ambulance.

“We received a call, a little after 7 p.m. Friday evening, that two personal watercrafts had collided in the harbour, close in proximity to the Irving Shipyard property and the McDonald Bridge,” says Halifax Regional Police Staff Sgt. Robert Fox. “We confirmed later on it was a 15-year-old male that was injured. He was the only injured person in this collision, and as far as I’m aware, he is still in hospital.”

Nasrallah says the boy was conscious and responsive, and that he walked with the 15-year-old to the ambulance. Nasrallah also notes that he spent Friday night in the emergency room with the boy’s parents and friends.

Halifax Regional Police is looking into whether or not charges will be brought about.

“The criminal investigation division is looking to see if any charges are warranted at all,” says Fox. “That’s looking at everything from the operators of the personal watercraft to the owners as well.”

One concerned boater says, given what he’s seen of some Sea-Doo riders, he wasn’t surprised to hear of the accident.

“They do 60 miles an hour, and they’re 800-900 pound machines,” says boater, John Briand. “They can do a lot of damage in a second if you don’t know how to operate them.”

Briand adds he finds it hard to enjoy boating in the harbour alongside inexperienced Sea-Doo riders.

“There’s other boats around, there’s other people in the harbour, and there’s boats coming out from every direction – there’s no control,” says Briand. “A controlled environment is different; you can go wide open and have fun, but this is not a controlled environment – anything can happen.”

While Briand didn’t witness this incident, he says he’d like to see more training required for rental users.

“Maybe before they get on a machine, they need a course to operate these things – just like a boater has to take a boater course,” says Briand. “These personal watercrafts are more maneuverable than any boat that I’ve seen – maybe they need to learn a little more about how to operate them.”

Nasrallah says his business has been operating for three years, and the collision was the first serious accident.

Nasrallah notes all renters are required to sign a waiver, take a 20-minute safety training course provided by Transport Canada, and pass a quiz before riding a Sea-Doo. He adds that his company takes several safety measures, including requiring guides to accompany renters at all times, regulating speed, and attaching keys to life jackets allowing watercrafts to turn off if drivers are thrown.

“Our goal is to ensure that everyone on the harbour is safe, and to ensure that our clients are getting a great experience,” says Nasrallah. “We’ll work closely with anyone who has concerns, describe to them what we are doing and how we are doing it and how we are improving day after day.”

Meanwhile, police continue to investigate the incident.

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